The German farmer protests started 2024 off with a bang. Last week, irate farmers prevented Germany’s Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck from getting off a ferry as he returned from vacation. This week, German farmers are taking to the highways. They have blocked Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate to protest the government’s removal of the agricultural diesel subsidy. The farmers and their supporters plan to continue protesting throughout the week of January 8. And they’re not alone. Farmers in France are also protesting, and we saw last year farmers in the Netherlands protesting.
What started it all in Germany?
The controversy began with an argument over what to do with debt accumulated during Covid. Germany’s notoriously strict rules regarding debt creation were lifted during Covid, for the same reasons so many rules were suspended here in the US. After the pandemic officially ended, the German government found itself with unused debt and decided to put the money toward its Climate and Transformation Fund.
The opposing party coalition sued, saying that the German government is not supposed to shift money around like that. This forced the groups supporting climate initiatives to find money elsewhere.
So, the German government decided to end some agricultural subsidies to fill the budget gaps. They originally planned to end tax breaks for agricultural vehicles and diesel subsidies, but after a series of protests in December, announced they would continue the vehicle tax breaks and phase out the diesel subsidies over a wider time frame.
The German agricultural sector doesn’t want to hear it. They feel that they are being unfairly targeted. In an interview with Reuters, German trucker Joachim, protesting with the farmers, said it wasn’t just the diesel subsidies. It was the cost of everything going up
“What the government is doing to us, increasing the road tax, increasing the price of diesel, and so on—no one can afford this anymore. Everyone is affected, and the problem is, everyone going shopping notices it and has to suffer.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by other protesters. Redacted’s Clayton Morris traveled to Berlin to report on the German protests, and his January 8 show revealed footage and brief interviews with Germans braving the frigid weather to show their support for the farmers.
The farmer protests are really about something much larger.
Despite their being painted as “right-wing extremists” by official media, the protesters have all insisted that they are merely realists. They see government money being spent on climate initiatives and foreign wars that do not benefit the population at large, and they want the general public to wake up to what’s going on.